The Washington Post reported Thursday night that White House officials twice proposed a plan to Immigration and Customs Enforcement that would have bused migrants detained at the border to Democratic-controlled sanctuary cities in order to retaliate against political rivals.
Yes, you read that right.
This mind-bendingly evil plan was reportedly divulged to the Post and Congress by several whistleblowers from the Department of Homeland Security. ICE eventually quashed the idea.
Trump officials reportedly proposed the plan not once but twice in the past six months. The first time was in November, when a highly-publicized caravan of migrants from Central America was making its way through Mexico. The second time was in February, amid negotiations with Congress over reopening the government and funding more beds for migrant detention.
The cities that Trump officials wanted to target with shipments of undocumented immigrants reportedly included San Francisco, much of which is represented by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Congress.
In emails obtained by the Post, the plan was referred to by DHS officials as the “Sanctuary City Proposal.”
From the Post:
White House officials first broached the plan in a Nov. 16 email, asking officials at several agencies whether members of the caravan could be arrested at the border and then bused “to small- and mid-sized sanctuary cities,” places where local authorities have refused to hand over illegal immigrants for deportation.
The White House told U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that the plan was intended to alleviate a shortage of jail space but also served to send a message to Democrats. The attempt at political retribution raised alarm within ICE, with a top official responding that it was rife with budgetary and liability concerns, and noting that “there are PR risks as well.”
After the White House pressed again in February, ICE’s legal department rejected the idea as inappropriate and rebuffed the administration.
Yeah, it does seem there might be PR risks in dumping human beings in Democratic cities as a way to punish your political enemies.
That didn’t stop the White House from trying to make it happen.
From the Post:
Senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller discussed the proposal with ICE, according to two DHS officials. Matthew Albence, who is ICE’s acting deputy director, immediately questioned the proposal in November and later circulated the idea within his agency when it resurfaced in February, seeking the legal review that ultimately doomed the proposal. Miller and Albence declined to comment Thursday.
Miller’s name did not appear on any of the documents reviewed by The Post. But as White House senior adviser on immigration policy, officials at ICE understood that he was pressing the plan.
Eventually, ICE convinced the White House to abandon the idea, citing the unnecessary cost and potential liabilities.
The White House and DHS sent similar statements to the Post about the alleged plan. “This was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion,” the White House statement said.
Just a suggestion! No big deal!
On the other hand, Pelosi and others in Congress found the plan horrifying.
“The extent of this administration’s cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated,” Pelosi spokeswoman Ashley Etienne told the Post. “Using human beings—including little children—as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable.”
Etienne is right—moving human beings, including children, hundreds of miles in order to prove a point to Democrats is despicable and evil. But it’s also extremely dumb. The idea, apparently, is that the presence of undocumented immigrants is so destabilizing that Democrats would rue the day they decided to cross the Trump administration.
Of course, this is completely insane. There are already millions of undocumented people living in the U.S., an estimated three million in California alone, and they happen to commit crimes at a much lower rate than U.S. citizens. All the Trump administration would have accomplished through this idiotic plan—other than fucking with the lives of incredibly vulnerable people—is proving their own unfounded prejudices wrong.
Albence was announced today as the new head of ICE, after acting directer Ron Vitiello was ousted by Trump last week. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen also resigned from her position last week after she was forced out by Trump.
According to one DHS official, the plan to send immigrants to sanctuary cities was never presented to Vitiello. Trump apparently personally pushed Neilsen to implement the proposal, which she resisted, a source has told CNN.
Trump and Miller have pushed for “tougher” enforcement of immigration policies at the border. According to the Post, Miller was also the most gung-ho on implementing the sanctuary city proposal.
“It was basically an idea that Miller wanted that nobody else wanted to carry out,” a congressional investigator who spoke to one of the DHS whistleblowers told the Post. “What happened here is that Stephen Miller called people at ICE, said if they’re going to cut funding you’ve got to make sure you’re releasing people in Pelosi’s district and other congressional districts.”
Read the rest of the Post’s absolutely insane report here.